Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sisters are doing it for themselves


Monday saw Shesays holding the first of it's 'TEDx' style events at The Hospital Club for SuckerPunch - all about women making a change in how business is run.

Pamela Ryckman, journalist and author of The Stiletto Network, really set the tone for an energetic and motivating evening. In her book, she has researched and discovered mini networks of women all over the States and UK, gathering together and becoming a force to be reckoned with.
 She told how formidable ladies from a range of industries, formed natural friendships, through meeting for dinner, then going on to either provide support or form strong business relationships. These meetups were informal, friendly and open to whoever was interested. In an organic and female way. Women were genuinely seeking to help eachother out, form bonds, trust and create a more balanced working society.

She realised this was happening all over, with small groups thinking they weren't doing anything out of the ordinary, not realising they were part of a growing phenomenon.
By creating this sort of interaction, women were now feeling empowered to set up on their own, or challenge themselves in the workplace, not being afraid to move up the ranks. They now had someone they could call on they could relate to. Women could be professional, yet feminine - without trying to conform or fit into a male orientated industry. It became a strategic support network. She cited examples of the likes of Kim Moses - Founder of one of the most downloaded apps for Warner Bros, and other female leaders now at board level in their companies.
Pamela explained, by achieving this sort of status, women will change the way business is run. They have a different attitude. A different way of looking at things, and a different approach to business. they are the ones writing the cheques. They will invest in other women. They will donate time and energy to female related causes. They will push forward laws that see a more equal balance in the workplace, and in society. Women will change the world.


"We’re moving away from the corporate model. We’re coming into an era where women have the skill sets and core value systems. Being collegial, collaborative, leaving your ego at the door… being able to work in a non-hierarchical environment, listening, attuned to intuition." -THE STILETTO NETWORK


And this is exactly how Sarah Bradley and Karla Morales-Lee of The Art of New Business, approached eachother and came up with their company idea. Meeting through twitter, they found through a shared viewpoint and experience in various advertising and design agencies, that there was a massive yet obvious gap in the market when it comes to how agencies approach clients for new business. They found hours of sifting through client lists and cold calling was alienating and not the kind of strategic approach they would take. Their background knowledge, and cries from fellow new business professionals across the net all agreed things had to change. Targets cannot be met when you just bowl into a company and brag about how great your agency is, and how they should work with you. Even in this fast paced, changing industry, it seems inside agencies it is all still the same. And CEO's and board members aren't even concerned; in fact, they admit that their own self branding, marketing is crap. But why? Clients are even noticing it now. In a competitive market where budgets are tight, you'd think companies would be more strategic in their approach to new business. How can you boast your creative offering when your own communication is tired and blends in? Sarah cited W+K's attitude to new clients as an example. Neil Christie, MD of the London office has revealed to them how they approach new clients by really understanding their product, their business model & what needs to be achieved. They then present to them a unique creative offering in the form of a a personalised book, video or magazine. This way, clients really feel special, and above all, understood. 

Sarah and Karla have tapped into this, and now run workshops and events providing professionals with a better understanding of what needs to be done to make a change in their agency. They encourage networking, and helping others much in the same way as Pamela mentioned; this being a more fruitful way to get ahead.
If clients are conversing with each other & requesting case studies of effectivity, MDs really can't afford to change their ways. And financially, with the UK ad industry spending almost £780k PER PITCH - our economy can't afford it either!
So it's time to approach new business as an art form, and no longer a numbers game.


The third lady making a change for the better in the design industry is Emma Sexton, founder of Make Your Words Work. Her consultancy aims to show clients that design is not just there to 'make things pretty' as an afterthought, but that it really is necessary for adding value. We are visual beings. And we're surrounded by thousands of images on a daily basis - and we respond to those visuals on an emotional level much more than words. Through her design expertise and interest in psychology, Emma ensures businesses talks to their clients in the right way, using language they understand and using beautiful design in a meaningful way. That's not to say content still isn't king - it should just be captivating and inspiring so that people remember you.

As an art director who has worked on many a pitch all of this really rings true. the number of times I am asked to just drop in the 'creative' to a 50 page powerpoint presentation, that to me, just goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, strategic thinking and storytelling are key but MDs & planners really need to step back every so often & look at the bigger picture. No wonder clients in the pitching process are waiting for the 'exciting' creative bit. The whole thing should be creative surely? Being freelance it has not always been my place to say - however the sheer confidence of these three women has certainly inspired me to go forth and speak my mind. For when you really have seen it over & over & it's staring you in the face - it's time to make a change. And there's no reason why it shouldn't be the women driving that.

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